ACC Football: Three Impact Coastal games in week 2

Sep 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) runs for a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second quarter of the 2016 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game at Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) runs for a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second quarter of the 2016 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game at Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Which ACC Football Coastal Division games are the biggest of the week?

So as I have already mentioned, week one in college football was awesome.

Week two not so much.

Honestly, if week one were classified as a hurricane, week two would be like a light mist. Six teams in the top 25 are playing FCS opponents. Only five are playing schools from power five schools.

Three of those five are in the ACC and one of those five is Iowa vs Iowa State. In case you missed it Iowa State just lost to FCS opponent UNI the week before.

After the awesomeness of last week, the FBS needs to fix this. Power Five schools need to quit playing FCS opponents and need to start playing each other. But I digress.

Related Story: ACC Football Standings

At least the ACC Coastal amped it up this week. Last week only two Coastal teams played Power Five Opponents, this week five are. Last week five Coastal teams played FCS opponents, this week only one is. This means after this week the top of the Coastal should start to finally distinguish itself.

So with that all taken care of, let’s jump into another round of ACC Coastal impact games. This week we get started by going to the races.

Virginia Tech vs Tennessee (Saturday Sept 10th @ 8 pm)

Virginia Tech and Tennessee are both coming off wins that were less than impressive. Both were at home last week, will a neutral site game make it any easier for either team?

Things going for the Hokies: Jerod Evans. The junior quarterback went 20-32 for 221 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Liberty. He was also the team’s leading rusher with five carries for 46 yards. Tennessee struggled against a team from the Sun Belt last week, at home. Plus even though the game is in Tennessee it is only an hour’s drive from Blacksburg.

Things going against the Hokies: The Hokies strength last week was the passing game. Despite struggling Tennessee defended the pass well, holding Appalachian State to only 108 yards through the air. They also forced an interception.

Virginia Tech had four fumbles last week. Do that against Tennessee and it isn’t good. The Volunteers weakness was the run game and Hokies star running back Travon McMillian only had 39 yards on 13 carries against Liberty.

If Tennessee is really the team that everyone thinks they are, then last week was a fluke. If they are instead this season’s Auburn, then last week was just the beginning. The answer to that question will probably have the biggest impact on this game and be the deciding factor in who wins.

North Carolina at Illinois, (Saturday Sept 10th @ 7:30 pm)

Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

North Carolina will play their second straight game away from home this season. Illinois will play their second straight game at home. Last week the Heels lost in what was basically a road game, while the Illini won easily. When the two teams met last season, Illinois was 2-0 and the Heels walloped them 48-14. Will playing in Champaign make a difference?

Things going for the Tar Heels: TJ Logan. The senior back had 253 all-purpose yards last week and two scores.

His touchdowns took Carolina from a four point deficit at halftime to a ten point lead half way through the third quarter. Illinois’s best player is a QB who can’t run, which fits right into the Heels strengths on defense.

Things going against the Tar Heels: Let’s start with the run defense. It gave up 222 yards and two touchdowns to Heisman hopeful Nick Chubb. Illinois’ four running backs ran the ball 36 times last week for 285 yards and four touchdowns. Kendrick Foster ran it four times for 118 yards and two touchdowns.

The Heels also struggled with offensive distribution. Despite a bad day passing (3.9 yards per pass), Mitch Trubisky dropped back 41 times. Elijah Hood and Logan averaged a whopping 9.5 yards per carry. The only problem is they were given just 16 total carries.

Last season Fedora failed to give Elijah Hood the ball in the end zone against South Carolina. He scored twice the following week. This year they failed to give the ball to Hood really at all. I expect Fedora to lean on his work horse and see Hood rush at least 20 times in this game.

If that happens, Carolina could easily win in another blowout. If he doesn’t, the Lovie Smith-led Illini have a real chance to get a signature win in his first season.

Wake Forest at Duke (Saturday Sept 10th @ 3:30 pm)

This is the only conference game in the Coastal this week. Duke is coming off a splattering of North Carolina Central. Wake is coming off a defensive showdown against Tulane? Wait is that right? The same Tulane who went 3-9 last year and lost to Duke and Georgia Tech 102-17? Let me check. Yep Tulane. Will this even be a game?

Things going for the Blue Devils: Running back Jela Duncan ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns last week on just 15 carries. Wake gave up 146 yards to Tulane last week. Again Tulane won three game last season and finished 119 out 126 teams last year in rushing. Wake put up all of seven points against this team.

Things going against the Blue Devils: Duke is starting a freshman QB. He did only throw for 189 yards last week, though on only 15 attempts. Yeah that’s about it. Duke should win this game.

So maybe this will be another easy win for Duke. Maybe Wake’s defense is good enough to keep this a game. Either way, it will be interesting to see if Wake can actually beat Duke for the first time since 2011.

One to keep an eye on: Penn State at Pittsburgh (Saturday, Sept 10th @ 12 pm)

Pittsburgh is trying to bring running and defense back to the college ranks. Last week it resulted in a scoreless first quarter and a 21 point victory. Penn State had similar struggles albeit against a MAC opponent. The Nittany Lions led by three at halftime against Kent State.

The return of James Conner was big for Pittsburgh. Conner sat out last season for a variety of reasons and came back strong this past week. Though the former ACC Player of the Year didn’t have a great day with just 3.1 yards-per-carry, he did get into the end zone. He also got involved in the passing game and scored a touchdown there as well.

Kent State rushed 41 times last week against Penn State. Pittsburgh would love to rush that many times against the Nittany Lions. The defense was also stout last week holding Villanova to under 175 total yards.

The passing game was a negative for the Panthers. Nate Peterman only through for 175 yards last week. Though the QB did have two touchdowns. Kent State only got 129 yards passing last week against the Nittany Lions. They also threw two interceptions.

If Bill O’Brien was still there, I don’t believe this would be a game. Luckily for Pitt O’Brien is busy leading the Houston Texans this weekend. If the Panthers stick to their game plan of running the ball and defense they should be successful, particularly at home. If Peterman ends up throwing it a lot, then Penn State may walk out with the upset victory.

The other power five matchup this week is Virginia at Oregon. Virginia lost at home last week to FCS Richmond. Oregon blew out FCS UC Davis. In other words don’t expect a game.

Elsewhere Miami plays FAU and Georgia Tech takes on Mercer. A 2-1 record in these games is expected. So don’t worry if week two may not be nationally satisfying.

The ACC Coastal is here to keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat.